I am PrimalI've been struggling to understand how I relate to the primal community for a while now. This festival, I found my answer.
The question was complicated for me. I'm never going to spend a festival tenting by the lake. It would be harder for me to get around doing that than staying in a cabin by the roads. While there is sometimes an aspect of physical ordeal in my work, that's not been the primary focus. I haven't worked to design ritual with the Primal Arts community, and I don't work with them between events.
When I looked deep enough, I was also worried that my Venus work might not have a place around the primal fires. Yes, their work grew out of Fires Of Venus (FOV) but it is very different in some ways. While FOV brought together people working with many different love gods and people working with love without any specific deity, there's also a sense in which we worked with a specific tribal goddess and through our work built a relationship with Venus Ardens. For me at least, that relationship is an important part of my work. I was nervous about how welcome that energy is around the fire, worried about respecting others' boundaries.
Taking ResponsibilityYet, I do feel a responsibility for the fire. I often feel more of a need to attend if the fire's going to be small or there's rain. There are times where I've jumped at an opportunity to add energy to the fire. I arrived at the Wednesday fire at FSG this year and there was a distinct lack of fire. My immediate reaction was to see what I could do and I found a way that I could help so that the people focusing on the fire could do their job. What a beautiful fire that became!
I also find myself helping people remember that the fire is their to build and contribute to. Sometimes this involves encouraging people to dance or to get involved. Sometimes it's just helping people feel comfortable. At every festival I find that there are a couple of people at least that I seem to help pull towards the fire.
Place Around the FireAt one of the fires this season, there was a rememberance for a member of the community who departed. The next day I was talking to one of the participants and mentioned that was one of the most beautiful ways to celebrate someone's life I had experienced. I expressed my hope that when my life concludes I could be remembered similarly. She turned to me and told me that I always had a place around the fire. That is one of the most powerful things I've ever heard. It was really hard to hear though; accepting my value, accepting responsibility, accepting the ties to community is very significant.
We Choose PrimalAt the last festival fire I attended this season, the primal arts community did two really important things. First, they began a written tradition and gave us all an opportunity to contribute to that tradition. Secondly, the primal brand was offered to anyone at the fire who would take it.
Dancing around that fire, I realized that the only thing holding me back from belonging was myself. This is something I claim, not something given.
I do claim my primal nature. The fire, the physical, the primitive are all part of who I am; I celebrate those aspects of myself. My position in the community will be unique, but that's true of every community I interact with. That may never be a community where I participate and plan ritual, but it will certainly be a community where I lend energy, where I'm ready to step in when needed. I'll bring my own energy, my own perspective, and I'll learn and grow from the energy and perspectives others bring. We will all be greater.
As for Venus, well, if there's room for me around the fire, with all that I am, surely there's room for the gods born of the primal fire. It's not FOV; it is not her fire, but the primal spirits are as much a part of the primal experience as anything else.
Broader CommunityThe theme of finding my place in the community extended far beyond my relation to my primal aspect. At beltane, I found people called on me and I watched as people I brought into our community in previous years began to find there place.
While Chuck was talking to the fire at Free Spirit Gathering, I found myself thinking about community. I thought back to the experience at Beltane. I thought about the joy of watching people explore their spirituality, open to love, and generally grow in our community. However, I also felt scared as I embraced my responsibility in that. People were counting on me and looking to my example. I felt a desire to be there, to help people move forward, but also realized how much this work matters to me and to those I interact with. It felt very big.
So, I danced around that FSG fire and thought these thoughts and opened. Venus was talkative that night. She showed me as much of a picture of the cauldron as I could take. She showed how these little webs of community, how the little ripples of interaction are a mirror-in-small of love work as a whole. She empathized with my fear while pointing out with amusement that I might consider how those feelings would be amplified if I could grasp the totality of the cauldron. However, she also showed that this web, these interconnections, the building of connection, that is the work of love, that is building the temple. That's what we need so that the lover and beloved can circle without fear.
Ah, yeah, what a fire, what a lesson! I give thanks.